What we read while hiding from North Korea…
What we read while building our own Death Star in the private sector…
NOTE: This review contains spoilers for Compliance. Though the film is based on real events, if you are not familiar with the real events or the film, I strongly advise seeing the film before reading this or anything else about the film’s plot.
One of the most resonant scenes in Craig Zobel’s powerful new film, Compliance, comes near the end, when Becky (played by Dreama Walker), the fast-food cashier who has been falsely accused, stripped, imprisoned, and raped, wants someone to pay for her ordeal. She tells a lawyer she wants to sue her boss, Sandra. But that’s not the best course of action, says the lawyer. What’s the use in suing a now-unemployed fast-food manager? It makes much more sense to sue the chain where you worked: It will have much deeper pockets and, besides, wasn’t it really the company’s fault, for not having proper guidelines for this type of situation?
This rationale represents a perfect conclusion to the film, which is largely about how people absolve themselves of responsibility by submitting to authority and, moreover, how society tends to reward and condition this behavior. Compliance opens with a small but revealing scene: Sandra (played by Ann Dowd) has to get an emergency delivery after someone left the freezer door open the night before, but the delivery guy chews her out for not telling her supervisor first. “I thought I would deal with this first,” she explains, “I don’t know what I was thinking.” Continue reading »
In honor of Oscar weekend, NPI will be rerunning our reviews of the Best Picture nominees. Here, Josh wonders what all the fuss over Up is about:
I like Pixar movies as much as anyone else, but Up simply isn’t that good. It’s not that witty, the storyline is pretty basic, and the characters are fairly simple. Much of the interaction between characters—especially in the middle of the movie—is dull. Up is a decent adventure movie with very good animation and cute-looking characters. I could see how this is appealing for children, but I don’t understand the logic behind the reviews praising this movie as excellent for people of all ages: It has a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently number 16 (of all time!) on IMDB. (Admittedly, new movies tend to get a boost, but this movie shouldn’t even be in the top 200.)
After the movie, I was a bit confused about what elicited the rave reviews. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon (one of the very few critics who wrote a negative review) helped me understand what sparked them in her claim: Continue reading »
What we read while forgiving Gilbert Arenas’ gambling debts…
- Roger Ebert and John S were not the only ones to give their lists of Best Movies of the Decade, but Slate has figured out how to turn all these lists into one definitive answer. Meanwhile, other people weren’t so boxed in. David Wain, for example, decided to list his Middle 10 movies of the decade. Jim Emerson, Ebert’s colleague at the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote about his worst film of the decade, which happened to win an Oscar for Best Picture; we advise looking through some of the comments for an interesting debate. Ricky Gervais (who you may remember made a couple of NPI lists) gave his lists of movies, TV, music, and comedy. Others decided to just rank the years.
- It’s been too long since our last fiction link: Here’s “39 Minutes” from former NBA player and one-time NPI commenter Paul Shirley over at Flip Collective. And don’t worry, it is not tied to the Al Pacino movie.
Despite my general negativity about movies of the Aughts, there were still plenty of great films released this decade (although I think a Top Ten list of 90s movies would probably omit films that could be #1 on this list). I’ve already provided a list of the ten funniest films of the decade, and there were other great comedies that didn’t make the list. Today, though, we turn our attention to the dramatic category. As Josh has already declared, though, genre concerns can be distracting, so I will not be bound my technical genre classifications. Consider this a list of films I like for “dramatic” reasons:
Since I’m only responding to John’s post now, I will do a line-by-line response.
“The “objective” judgments he mentions, that involve thinking “hard and rationally” (as if subjective judgments don’t), are: “You could say that Movie A’s theme was better developed than Movie B’s, or that the dialogue in Movie A was less meaningful than the dialogue in Movie B.” Ok, what if I think Movie A’s theme was better developed and you think Movie B’s was? How do we resolve this supposedly “objective” dispute?”
Continue reading »